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We carefully place the coffee cup, danish, and an open bible (perfectly highlighted of course) in perfect alignment. Nope. Too perfect. We splash a drop of coffee beside the plate, now it looks more ‘real’. Add a filter and voila! We tell cute little stories about our lives, concluding with a fairy tale ending; wrapped up like a neat little bow under a perfect picture of us riding off into the sunset. Our likes go up. People comment and thank us for how transparent we are. This person is kinda like me. My blogs are authentic and I have no problem with sharing some of my past experiences, so I must be vulnerable right? Don’t get me wrong, this perfectly fine! Social media is not the place to process through your issues, I too control how much of my life I put on there. But, on the flip side I would cringe if my close friends asked me something too private. I would pridefully snap if my parents asked me something that I didn’t like or want to hear. Sometimes I still do. (I’m just learning this too!) My point is: Social media platforms often trick us into thinking we are perfectly vulnerable in community when we are honestly just being transparent. Transparency is not the same as vulnerability and you can’t control what the people closest to you can see like you can on the Internet. That’s not going to foster intimacy. Looking at a panel Bethel did on community (link below) they explained that transparency is what you choose to share. Its masked as vulnerability, but its not a true unmasking. Its kind of like that perfect Instagram mom that is transparent about her messy house or her unruly kids that day; but isn’t vulnerable enough to have a friend pop over unannounced. We fake vulnerability, mask it as transparency, and then wonder why no one truly knows us. Vulnerability can’t be controlled by us, it only happens when we let ourselves be known and seen by someone else.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. … I know this is hard to believe, especially when we’ve spent our lives thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous, but it’s true. I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” From: “Daring Greatly” by Dr.Brene Brown
Why does vulnerability in community matter? Exposing yourself emotionally, no holds barred, seems more debilitating than empowering. There are a million voices in our head, telling us: you’re the only one who is like this or nobody cares what you are going through. That’s not true. The Enemy of our souls would love to isolate us in this way, keeping us quiet and in shame. I have found that when I abandon those voices I find so much freedom. Nothing is ever as bad as my thoughts make it seem. Also, your vulnerability will always free up someone else to be even more open. There is freedom in vulnerability.
So, you might wonder what vulnerability looks like. For me, it looks like not being afraid for the people I love to ask me hard questions. It looks like reaching out first to forge a friendship. It looks like going to get therapy or pastoral counseling. It looks like making amends, forgiving, and going to reconcile those breaches in relationships. It looks like opening up my home to people from church that I don’t know. It might look different for different people, and its a process. I would suggest you sit down and think about what vulnerability looks like for you. One step of opening up instantly makes you brave enough to take another step. Don’t be hard on yourself, its not something that happens over night.
We weren’t meant to go through life alone, hiding behind perfect Instagram profiles. Let down your guard, and allow God to work through the amazing people He has planted in your life. One of my favorite speakers, Pastor Steven Furtick, says that Christians love the cliche of ‘All I need is Jesus’ thinking that they can ignore the significance of relationship. Jesus displays Himself differently in and through the body of Christ. Don’t miss a key part of Jesus by overlooking parts of the Body that He works through. Let people in. You will find something beautiful.
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
11 Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
12 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
If you want to learn more about vulnerability, Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown is an amazing read.